Dr. Chan met with ISGlobal representatives and spoke to the participants of the course Science of Eradication: Malaria
The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, made a surprise visit to the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal) and the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Barcelona, where the course Science of Eradication: Malaria is taking place. Dr. Chan, who is spending some days in Barcelona, accepted the invitation made by Pedro Alonso, Director of the WHO Global Malaria Programme and ISGlobal founder, who is participating as lecturer in the course organized by ISGlobal, the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the Swiss TPH Institute.
Upon her arrival to the Faculty of Medicine, the Director-General was received by ISGlobal researcher Antoni Trilla, in name of the dean and the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona. During an informal meeting, ISGlobal directors briefly introduced Dr. Chan to the main projects the institution is working on.
The WHO leader mentioned how important is was for a touristic city like Barcelona to have an institute like ISGlobal: “Any city with an international port should pay special attention to global health issues” she said.
She then shared with the representatives from ISGlobal, Hospital Clinic and University of Barcelona some of the lessons learned from the different international health crisis that occured during her mandate.
“We have nothing to stand on except science”
Before ending her visit, Margaret Chan addressed some words to the participants in the Science of Eradication: Malaria course that brought together in Barcelona people from 37 different countries and that are playing an key role in the eradication of the disease.
In an improvised speech, she insisted on the need of “breaking silos and working in team”. “We have nothing to stand on except science” she said. “Scientists are brilliant persons but they work individually. If we manage to bring all actors together, we are much stronger”, she added. Along the same line, she underlined the need to align countries, private sector, universities and civil society among other key actors in global health.
The WHO Director-General also referred to the current Zika epidemic in Latin America, and wished to highlight a positive aspect: “Up to now, I had never seen science being made and shared in such a short period of time”. In particular, she underlined the quick evolution from the unknown possible consequences of Zika infections to the mapping of evidence from the different affected countries.